LOS ANGELES (CN) – A man facing a murder charge over a deadly shootout with police in front of a neighborhood market last summer said in court Friday that he was a “prophet” sent by Jesus and smeared a brown substance on a glass partition, but a prosecutor said it was all an act to further delay court proceedings.
Gene Atkins, 29, led police on a car chase after he shot his grandmother and a 17-year-old girl last July during a domestic disturbance. Atkins crashed the car into a light pole outside a Trader Joe’s in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Silver Lake, where he exchanged gunfire with police as he ran toward the market.
An LAPD officer’s bullet struck and killed store manager Melyda Corado, 27, who was walking to the front of the store after she heard the loud car crash.
After running inside the market, Atkins held customers hostage and several hours later surrendered to police.
Along with kidnapping and attempted murder, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office charged Atkins with murder because he engaged in a shootout with police that resulted in Corado’s death.
Last year, Atkins asked to dismiss multiple attorneys representing him and at a previous court hearing said he wanted to “plead insanity” but did not enter a plea.
On Friday, representing himself, Atkins appeared in court in a jail jumpsuit and said, “I was sent here by Jesus” and “I’m standing here wrongly convicted.”
Judge Francis Bennett II asked Atkins if he was ready to set a future court date for a preliminary hearing, but Atkins said he did not know what he was supposed to do in court.
“I cannot give you any legal advice,” Bennet said.
“God bless you, sir,” Atkins said. He added, “God bless the court.”
“I was sent here by Jesus” and “I’m a prophet. Sent to correct the wrong,” Atkins said.
Deputy District Attorney Tannaz Mokayef said Atkins was putting on an act. Mokayef said at previous court proceedings Atkins was able to clearly articulate that he wanted to represent himself.
“What you’re witnessing here is an act to delay the proceedings even further,” Mokayef said.
Bennett did not make any decision at Friday’s hearing and set another hearing for Feb. 21. As he was escorted out of the courtroom by the bailiffs, Atkins smeared an unknown brown substance on a glass partition.
Dashcam and bodycam footage released by police showed Atkins firing a gun as he ran toward the market. Officers fired back at him in the direction of the Trader Joe’s as they took cover behind a wall in a parking lot. Police said Corado was struck by a bullet in the arm that then travelled to her head. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Last November, Corado’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the LAPD in Los Angeles County Superior Court.